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Ginny Dolls
The History of Vogue, Inc.

Hard-plastic, vintage Ginny dolls from the late 1940s through the 1950s were favorite dolls of little girls, and today they are a hot, sought-after collectible.  Although the doll lost her way in the late 1960s through the 1980s (much like Barbie!) today the dolls are again favored by little girls as well as collectors.

The story of Ginny and the Vogue Doll Company has been well documented.  Ginny was created by the founder of the Vogue Doll Company, Jennie H. Graves, from Sommerville, MA.  The business was originally a "cottage industry" business run out of Mrs. Graves house.  She sold a variety of bisque,composition and hard plastic dolls through the 1930s and 1940s, for which Ms. Graves designed most of the clothing,   In 1948, she decided to create an 8" plastic play doll, and Ginny was born!

One of the novel things about the new Ginny doll was that the clothing was available separately from the doll.  The original Vogue dolls retailed for only $1.98, ready to dress in underwear and shoes, and outfits retailed from $1.00 to $2.98.  Mrs. Graves designed most of the clothing, and the wonderful detailed outfits--including hats, purses, and snap-shoes--added immeasurably to the doll's popularity.

The doll remained hugely popular throughout the 1950s, and was carried by major department stores such as Gimbels.   A succession of models were produced--first, a painted eye doll. Then, a strung sleep-eye doll.  A straight leg walker followed, followed by a straight leg walker with molded (not painted) lashes (see the 1955 Fun Time Roller Skater, right, as an example; see other styles in the Ginny Doll Gallery) .  The final design of the doll before the head became vinyl was a Bent Knee Walker.

Mrs. Graves was at the helm of Vogue until 1960.  In 1960, Ginny was produced with a vinyl (not hard plastic) head, and many believe that to be the "beginning of the end" for Ginny. 

Mrs. Graves daughter, Virginia Graves Carlson, took over the company until 1966.   Besides the change to a vinyl head, The Vogue Doll Company also came up against two large problems in the 1960s.  First, the philosophy of the company was to NOT advertise on TV.  Second, there was Barbie, who was capturing the hearts and play time of little girls everywhere.  So, Ginny's profile with little girls became smaller, and it became harder to compete with dolls such as Barbie who were all over the children's television airwaves. An interesting fact is that in 1958-1958, Ruth Handler of Mattel had negotiated with Mrs. Graves to buy Vogue!  Negotiations were unsuccessful, but, had they been successful, doll history might have changed and Barbie might never have even existed!

Control of the company went to Mrs. Carlson's brother-in-law, where it stayed until 1972, at which time the company was sold to TonkaCompany which then produced the doll in Hong Kong (the fist time the doll wasn't produced in the USA).   Several more management changes ensued, including a sale to Dakin n 1986. The quality of the doll design and costuming suffered during this period.

Finally, in 1995, well-known dollmaker Wendy Lawton and several associates bought the rights to Ginny and the Vogue Dolls name, and Ginny as a quality doll was back!  Wendy has been Ginny's design director ever since.  The dolls became all hard-plastic again, and the costuming inspired by the original Graves designs of the 50s.  The painting was revamped to look more like the original doll, as was the wigging.  Many feel that the new company has recaptured the spirit and look of the original Ginny!  Collections of the new Ginny have included a "Century" collection with dolls dressed to represent each century, as well as a School Days collection (see above).  Separate outfits are available, and these dolls have become very popular and admired once again--Ginny has come full circle!

Don't miss the Vintage Ginny Photo Gallery!

Do you collect Ginny?  Modern or Vintage?   Or, is Ginny not your style?  Sound off in our Ginny Dolls Discussion in the Forum (click GUEST if you are not a member)

And, Don't miss these great Ginny sites:

Susi's Ginny Page
Don't miss the MIB Toodles and the Crib Crowd Twins!

Melanie's Ginny Page
Lots of Ginnys live at Melanies' house!

Carolyn's Rock and Roll Ginny Dolls
Great site on 1950s Ginny, Muffie and Ginger Dolls.

Dolls From Our Childhood
Noted author Judith Izen showcases dolls from the 50s and 60s.  Dolls for sale.

My Favorite Ginnies
Ginnys from the collection of Jayne Best; from Jayne's Doll Closet.

Tracey's Doll Page
Great pictures from a vintage Ginny collection

Some historical background information from The Collector's Encyclopedia of Vogue Dolls, by Judith Izen.

 

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Article, Graphics Copyright © 2001 Denise Van Patten

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